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Short story about a man who travels through portals (star gates?) getting further and further away from home. He finds out that each transit has a rejuvenating effect.

I can't recall why he started on this quest but at the end he resolves to keep travelling.

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  • 1
    You could improve this question by going through the checklists here and editing in any relevant info you can think to add.
    – Valorum
    Feb 15, 2022 at 22:40
  • I'm sure it's not what you're looking for, but the travel and getting further and further away from home reminds me of a certain part of Alan Dean Foster's "The Howling Stones". Feb 16, 2022 at 16:23
  • The story has been found but I will be looking up "The Howling Stones". Thanks!
    – user149512
    Feb 17, 2022 at 19:48

1 Answer 1

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Based on the "rejuvenating effect" I believe you're thinking of "Ticket to Anywhere", a novelette by Damon Knight which was also the answer to the old question Short story about teleportation across the galaxy using alien teleport booths; first published in Galaxy Science Fiction, April 1952, available at the Internet Archive. You might have read it in one of these compilations, perhaps in the Knight collection In Deep or the Silverberg-edited anthology Deep Space.

Near the end of the story the hero, Richard Falk, finds a message inscribed on a slab of rock by an earlier explorer:

THE DOORWAYS STOP THE AGING PROCESS. I WAS 32 WHEN I LEFT MARS, AM HARDLY OLDER NOW THOUGH I HAVE BEEN TRAVELING FROM STAR TO STAR FOR A TIME I BELIEVE CANNOT BE LESS THAN 20 YRS. BUT YOU MUST KEEP ON. I STOPPED HERE 2 YRS. FOUND MYSELF AGING—HAVE OBSERVED THAT MILKY WAY LOOKS NEARLY THE SAME FROM ALL PLANETS SO FAR VISITED. THAT CANNOT BE COINCIDENCE. BELIEVE THAT DOORWAY TRAVEL IS RANDOM ONLY WITHIN CONCENTRIC BELTS OF STARS & THAT SOONER OR LATER YOU HIT DOORWAY WHICH GIVES ENTRY TO NEXT INNERMOST BELT. IF I AM RIGHT, FINAL DESTINATION IS CENTER OF GALAXY. I HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE.
JAMES E. TANNER
NATIVE OF EARTH

Falk resolves to keep travelling:

So the way was made long, and the way was made hard; and the lesser breeds stayed on their planets. But for a man, or a lizard, who would give up all that he called "life" for knowledge, the way was open.

Falk turned off the beam of his head-lamp and looked up at the diamond mist of the Galaxy. Where would he be, a thousand years from today? Standing on that mote of light, or that?

Not dust, at any rate. Not dust, unmourned, unworthy. He would be a voyager with a destination, and perhaps half his journey would be done.

Wolfert would wait in vain for his return, but it would not matter; he was happy, if you called his existence happiness. And on Earth, the mountains would rise and fall long after the question of human survival had been forgotten. By that time, perhaps, Falk would be home.

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  • That sure sounds like it, thanks. Now to hunt down a copy.
    – user149512
    Feb 16, 2022 at 2:10
  • You're welcome. Did you notice that my answer includes a link to an Internet Archive scan of the whole story?
    – user14111
    Feb 16, 2022 at 4:00
  • Just noticed it, thanks. It's going to be an enjoyable read tonight.
    – user149512
    Feb 17, 2022 at 19:45